Bayes, Nora (1880-1928) - Popular singer who introduced "By the Light
of the Silvery Moon" in the Follies.
Berkley, Busby (1895-1976) - The big screen's most acclaimed
choreographer first grabbed Hollywood's attention with his dances for the screen version
of Ziegfeld's Whoopee. Detailed biography.
Berlin, Irving (1888-1989)- This much loved composer-lyricist
composed many songs for the Follies, most notably "A Pretty Girl is Like a Melody,"
the so-called theme for the series. Detailed biography.
Brice, Fanny (1891-1951)- Torch singer and peerless comedienne,
Brice starred in more editions of the Follies than anyone else.
Buck, Gene (Aug. 6, 1885 - Feb. 25, 1957) - This versatile talent
became Ziegfeld's right hand, acting as lyricist, script writer and director for many
editions of the Follies, from 1911 through 1931. Buck "discovered"
such Follies luminaries as Will Rogers, W.C. Fields and designer Joseph Urban.
Buck was also a co-founder and longtime president of the composer's association ASCAP.
Burke, Billie (b. Aug 7,
1885 -d. May 17, 1970)
American born and raised in England, this ravishing redhead's vivacious charm made her
a favorite ingénue in a series of stage musicals and comedies produced by Charles
Frohman in London and New York during the early 1900s. When Burke met Ziegfeld at
a New Year's gala, it was love at first sight for both of them. They were married
in 1914, and had a daughter, Patricia, two years later. Burke was infuriated
by Ziegfeld's frequent infidelities, but their love kept the marriage
going. A popular film star, she brought Ziegfeld out to Hollywood when
his fortunes and health deteriorated. After his death, she worked for
years to clear Ziegfeld's debts and maintain his legacy. She co-produced
two further editions of the Follies with the Shuberts, and acted as
consultant for MGM's acclaimed film The Great Ziegfeld.
She became Hollywood's favorite feather-brained matron in dozens of screen comedies,
including Dinner at Eight (1933), Topper (1937) and The Man Who Came
to Dinner (1942). Best remembered as Glinda in The Wizard of Oz (1939),
Burke remained active in films until 1960. Her autobiography was entitled With a
Feather on My Nose (1948).
Cantor, Eddie (1892-1964) - A brilliant comic actor and singer,
Cantor appeared in several editions of the Follies, as well as the Ziegfeld
musical comedy hit Whoopee. In 1927 he became the only solo star of a
Follies during Ziegfeld's lifetime.
Carroll, Earl (1893-1948) - Producer of a series of revues called
Vanities and Sketchbooks, Carroll was one of Ziegfeld's most successful
competitors. When the Depression forced Carroll into bankruptcy, Ziegfeld took over Carroll's
theater only to face his own financial collapse months later.
Charlot, Andre (1882-1956) - This Paris native
produced a series of chic, intimate 1920s London revues that traveled to
Broadway. They were successful alternative to Ziegfeld's lavish
productions. Charlot introduced America to such talents as Beatrice Lillie, Jack
Buchanan and Gertrude Lawrence, and showcased the early songs of Noel Coward.
Dolly Sisters - Identical Hungarian twins Jenny and
Rose(born Yansci and Rozika Dutsch) became famous in vaudeville, and were the
longest running sister act ever to play The Palace. Poor singers and limited
dancers, their physical beauty and elaborate costumes were the key to their
lasting popularity. The appeared in several editions of the Follies and
Midnight Frolic. Both married millionaires and retired in the late 1920s.
Dolores (1892-1975) - born Kathleen Rose, this tall English beauty
was a popular fashion model when Ziegfeld hired her for the 1917 Follies.
Although she could neither sing nor dance, her extraordinary looks made her a
favorite, and she appeared in various Follies and
Frolics walking across the stage in spectacular costumes. She appeared in
the long-running Sally before retiring to marry a millionaire.
Duke, Vernon (1903-1969) - This sophisticated composer contributed
melodies to several editions of the Follies.
Eaton, Mary (1901-1948) - This gifted dancer toured for
the Shuberts and appeared in the ensembles of several Broadway musicals before
Ziegfeld groomed he to be Marilyn Miller's successor in the Follies. She
appeared three editions (1920-1922), co-starred with Eddie Cantor in Kid
Boots (1923), and headlined The Five O'Clock Girl (1927). On screen,
she appeared with the Marx Brother in Coconuts (1929) and starred in
Ziegfeld's Gloryfying the American Girl (1929). After retiring into
private life, Eaton died of a heart attack at age 47.
Erlanger, A.L. (1860-1930) - The most powerful American theater
owner of the 19th Century, Erlanger co-produced the early
Follies and many other shows with Ziegfeld. He also built and owned The
New Amsterdam, home to many of Ziegfeld's hits.
Errol, Leon (1881-1951) Born in Australia, Errol honed his comic
skills touring in American burlesque before making his Follies debut in 1911. He
starred and even directed several more editions, and starred with Marilyn Miller
in the long running hit Sally.
Etting, Ruth (1896-1978) - This popular torch singer won fame in
nightclubs and vaudeville before introducing the hit "Shaking the Blues
Away" in the 1927 Follies. She sang "Love Me or Leave Me" in
Whoopee, "Ten Cents a Dance" in
Simple Simon, and recreated the old Nora Bayes hit "Shine On Harvest
Moon" in the 1931 Follies. Etting's colorful life was depicted in the hit
film Love Me or Leave Me. Detailed biography.
Fairbanks Twins - Madeline and Marion were Broadway
favorites from their childhood, They danced in several editions of the Follies
and the Midnight Frolics.
Friml, Rudolph (1979-1972) - One of Broadway's most successful
operetta composers, Friml contributed songs to several editions of the
Follies, and composed the score for Ziegfeld's hit musical version of
The Three Musketeers. Detailed biography.
Gray, Gilda (1901-1959)- born Marianne Michalski, this Polish dancer
popularized the "shimmy" a ragtime dance craze of the early 1920s.
She danced in the 1922 Follies. The film
Gilda (1949), starring Rita Hayworth, was inspired by her colorful life.
Gray died of a heart attack at age 58.
Haggin, Ben Ali (1882-1951) - A prominent portrait painter, Haggin
devised a series of tableau called "Living Pictures" for both the
Midnight Frolic and the
Follies. Thanks to a legal technicality, nudity on stage was legal so
long as the performers did not move. Showcasing Ziegfeld's chorus beauties in
costly but minimal costumes, these recreations of
famous paintings were very popular. Haggin also designed costumes for
various editions of the Follies.
Hammerstein II, Oscar (1895-1960)- Lyricist and librettist, he
collaborated with composer Jerome Kern on the epic Show Boat.
Held, Anna (1873?-1918) - With an hourglass figure,
expressive eyes and coquettish charm, this Polish born singer won stardom in the
music halls of England and France. Ziegfeld wooed her, becoming her common law
spouse while producing a series of
popular musical star vehicles for her. A musicalized revival of
A Parlor Match (1896) was followed by such hits as
Papa's Wife (1899), Mam'selle Napoleon (1903) and
Miss Innocence (1908). Ziegfeld also made Held the focus of several
outrageous publicity gimmicks, including phony jewel heists and the ludicrous
suggestion that she only bathed in fresh milk. Held's hit songs included
""I Just Can't Make My Eyes Behave" and "It's Delightful to
Be Married." Ziegfeld's flagrant infidelities (in particular with Lillian
Lorraine) led a heartbroken Held to file for divorce in 1912. She toured in vaudeville
and returned to Broadway in Follow Me (1916). A rare form of bone cancer led to
her death at age 45. Detailed biography.
Herbert, Victor (1859-1924) - This beloved Irish-American composer
of hit musical comedies and operettas contributed music for ten editions of the
Follies, as well as Sally and several other Ziegfeld productions.
It is said that Ziegfeld's chronic refusal to pay his composers led to
the rage that killed Herbert. Detailed biography.
Kern, Jerome (1885-1945) - One of Broadway's greatest composers, Kern
collaborated with Oscar Hammerstein II on the score for
Show Boat. He also wrote most of the music for Ziegfeld's long
running Marilyn Miller vehicle, Sally.
King, Dennis (1897-1971) - The top matinee idol of the 1920s, King
appeared as D'Artagnan in The Three Musketeers and as Ravenal in the 1932
Show Boat revival. Detailed biography..
Lahr, Bert (1895-1967)- One of the greatest clowns in the history
of American show business, Lahr toured in burlesque and vaudeville before becoming a
major Broadway and Hollywood star. He co-starred with Lupe Velez in Ziegfeld's last
musical comedy, Hot-Cha. Detailed biography..
Lorraine, Lillian (1892-1955) - Born
Eulallen De Jacques, this tempestuous beauty was featured in several editions of the
Follies, as well as other Ziegfeld shows. She eventually toured in vaudeville and
starred in shows for other producers. Ziegfeld's mistress for many years, she eluded
his proposals on one occasion, marrying her thieving chauffeur just to spite
her benefactor. Lorraine's heavy drinking and violent temper ruined her career, leaving
her destitute in her final years. After Lorraine's death, Ziegfeld's widow
Billie Burke confessed that of all the girl's in Flo's life, she was most
jealous of Lorraine, whom she believed Ziegfeld loved.
Lucille - This was the pseudonym used by British aristocrat
Lady Duff-Gordon when designing ladies fashions. An international success,
she provided lavish costumes for seven editions of the Follies (1915-1921)
as well as Ziegfeld's The Century Girl and Sally. A leading figure in
international high society for most of the early 20th Century, Lady Duff-Gordon
and her husband were among the lucky few to survive the sinking of the Titanic.